Reflexive Thematic Analysis – Detailed Guide and Tools to Use

Reflexive Thematic Analysis

Reflexive thematic analysis is a very common form of analysis among students. It is because it is a very easy and flexible approach to analyzing qualitative data. It can help you give useful insights from the collected data. However, many students do not have a proper guide to do this analysis.

This article will give you a proper guidance and tools for reflexive thematic analysis.

Reflexive thematic analysis:

Reflexive thematic analysis is considered a very theoretically flexible and easily assessable research approach. It aims to analyze qualitative data in order to facilitate the analysis and identification of themes and patterns in collected data. In qualitative research, reflexive analysis is important because this type of research is highly dependent on the information provided by the participants. It is because interviews, discussions and questionnaires are all led by the researcher. Thus, the collected information in a qualitative study might be impacted by some underlying beliefs of the researcher.

Detailed guide:

In this section, we will provide a detailed guide on how to conduct a reflexive thematic analysis:

Step 1: familiarisation

The first step is to get engage with the collected data rigorously. In this step, you need to immerse yourself in your data set in order to become deeply intimate and familiar with it. This step is very simple as you simply read your data repeatedly. However, it is a very important face to draw a meaningful conclusion. The familiarity level shows how close you are to your data. In this way, you can engage with your data critically. Try to ask reflexive questions to become more familiar with data and engage with it critically. You can also get masters dissertation help for it.

Phase 2: CodingĀ 

The next stage for reflexive thematic analysis will be coding. In the coding process, you review your data methodically and search for sections that look provoking, relevant and interesting according to your research question. This process is referred to as an exploratory process.

Two main purposes behind coding in the thematic analysis are rigour and insight. Coding gives insights because it demands critical and purposeful engagement with the qualitative data. In simple words, you will review the breadth and depth of your data in this stage. You will mine for patterns and ideas that you might overlook otherwise.

Phase 3: Making Initial Themes

A theme can help you capture the data’s pattern of meaning. In this stage of reflexive thematic analysis, the identified codes will be clustered together to show a shared meaning or concept. You need to make themes thoughtfully and deliberately to engage with the dataset. Your themes must have the potential to address your research question. They need to be fun, open and creative to grab readers’ attention. You do not need to capture everything in your data in a theme. Instead, each theme should have a distinctive and unique main concept.

Phase 4: Develop and Review ThemesĀ 

This stage will give you an opportunity to adjust, check and review all the themes. You will review your whole data and also the extracted codes. This will allow you to get clarity and understanding of your themes. You will be able to identify a compelling story in your themes. In this process, you need to ensure that your themes are not too disconnected from your dataset. In the end, you will have robust, sophisticated and well-worked themes that can give engaging, nuanced and rich analysis to address your research question.

Phase 5: Refining, defining, and naming themes

To define and refine your theme, you need to make an abstract for your themes. Making an abstract can be a form of test. It is because while making the abstract, you must be able to understand the central principle to convey the unique message of your themes. You should be able to explain how this message will contribute to your analysis. This stage will give you a chance to revise your theme. It is because making an abstract will require you to capture the whole gist. This process will help you identify the gaps where further refinement is needed. In this way, you can make your reflexive thematic analysis strong

Phase 6: Writing up

The next thing you need to do is to write up your analysis. You should write your analysis like a story that invites the readers to stay. Your analysis should engage and intrigue your readers while also convincing them of the robustness and validity of your identified themes. In some way, you will describe your journey of exploration in a reflexive thematic analysis. The goal is to create a story about each theme that has a distinctive feature. You should connect your themes in a perfect flow as well.


Following are the tools that are the best options to use in reflexive thematic analysis:

  • MAXQDA is the best option for this type of analysis. It is because it works with many data types that give powerful tools for this analysis, such as mixed methods, visualization coding etc.
  • NVivo is a tool that will allow you to store and organize your qualitative data so that it becomes ready for analysis.
  • ATLAS.ti is another powerful tool that can help you in this analysis to support a large amount of video, audio, graphical and textual data. It also has very advanced AI technology.
  • QDA miner is software for mixed and qualitative methods that can help you code, organize and analyze qualitative data.
  • Quirkos is a very simple tool. It can help you to analyze your data for thematic analysis in a very easy way. That is why, in the education sector, it is very popular.


The above guide can help you write a perfect reflexive thematic analysis. By using the above-mentioned tools, you can take your analysis to another level. It is important that you make sure that your analysis is engaging and easy to understand.